Review: Greta Van Fleet In New York

Their name is Greta Van Fleet.  They're young and they play heavy blues-based rock with an occasional jam breaking out.  And, yea, "They sound like Led Zeppelin."  And boy, does that cause controversy (more on that later.)

As ALT 92.9's Program Director, I was lucky enough to experience Greta Van Fleet on the second of a sold-out 2-night stand at the Bowery Ballroom in New York.  The famous room was over-packed with a diverse group of music fans: 20-something women (most down right in front of the stage-impressive!) dudes and bros high-fiving (spilling beer and not budging from their precious floor spots for anyone or anything) and a strong showing of "men of a certain age" (Let's call them 50+.)

Notice the bananas on the bass cabinet. Funny.

Close your eyes and listen and we could have been at the Fillmore East in 1969.  But opening them, we saw young kids working hard at their craft in 2017.  The 1 hour, 15 minute show was high-energy, engaging, and dammit, had real people playing real damn instruments.  Brothers Josh (vocals) Jake (lead guitar) and Sam Kiszka (bass and keyboards) along with drummer Danny Wagner tore through a rocking set featuring songs from their excellent new double EP From The Fires, including the hit "Highway Tune" (Buy it here.)    They LOOK like rock and roll and play with fury, tight precision, and occasionally enough looseness to extend some songs into deeper, richer jams.  And Josh's voice truly wails, from short bursts to long, powerful howls.

Ok, now to the comparisons.  I got vibes of The White Stripes musically, and some of Josh's stage movements reminded me of the late, great Ronnie James Dio.  And, of course, many say Greta Van Fleet "sounds like Led Zeppelin."  True.  Frankly, that's been said about hundreds of bands since 1980 when Led Zeppelin broke up (Zebra or Kingdom Come, anyone??)   Personally, I'm ok with this.  Led Zeppelin was one of the greatest bands ever.  But they're not coming back.  Ever.  Just ask Robert Plant about it and watch his blood pressure spike.  So if you're a Led Zeppelin purist, buy the albums from 40 years ago and stay home in your footie pajamas.  But if you want to leave the house and see a young rock band playing a style of music that really isn't being played anywhere else in 2017, go see Greta Van Fleet.  (And read more about them here, thanks to ALT 92.9's Amy Brooks.)

Ken West is Program Director of ALT 92.9.  He sounds nothing like Led Zeppelin.